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Poster: jerlouvis Date: Aug 17, 2011 4:54pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Bird Song

I hoped to provoke some discussion around Bird Song,which I believe is an under appreciated gem.It has such an inviting musical structure,a kind of relaxed swing,coupled with good lyrics sung in a pleasing cadence.I find it akin to jazz standards.It has that GD quality of being able to be be opened up,explored and brought back to it's base,like their more open pieces such as Dark Star,PITB,Other One and to a lesser degree Here Comes Sunshine,Eyes and Let It Grow.For some reason the band never really took this one out there,it was somewhat restrained exploration,I always felt it could indulge their more twisted experimental side.Then for some reason,they shelved it from September 73' to September 80'.I can't imagine why they would put away such a performable song for so long.I can only wonder how great a June 74' or October 76' version might have been.Here are some fine performances spread out over the years,the song always seemed very representative of where the band was sonically and stylistically each year it was played.

These versions were selected strictly on the instrumental passage,as I usually jump in at the 2:30 minute mark to avoid the vocal,and stop listening after the jam portion,to avoid the vocal.So there might be some questionable vocal performances.

http://www.archive.org/details/gd72-12-12.sbd.miller.32041.sbeok.flacf

http://www.archive.org/details/gd1973-09-07.sbd.goodyear.1126.sbeok.shnf

http://www.archive.org/details/gd80-10-13.acoustic-sbd.munder.13064.sbeok.shnf

http://www.archive.org/details/gd81-09-12.wise.munder.7091.sbeok.shnf

http://www.archive.org/details/gd1982-03-14.sbd.clugston.24457.sbeok.shnf

http://www.archive.org/details/gd84-06-29.senn.willy.14682.sbeok.shnf

http://www.archive.org/details/gd85-04-28.sbd.new.miller.28357.sbeok.flacf

This post was modified by jerlouvis on 2011-08-17 22:46:43

This post was modified by jerlouvis on 2011-08-17 23:54:24

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Poster: Cliff Hucker Date: Aug 17, 2011 5:44pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Bird Song

Nice post!

I really dig some of the acoustic renditions of Birdsong, particularly the jammed out performances. The Mill Valley Rec Center Benefit might be the best of these...

http://www.archive.org/details/gd80-12-06.cantor.clugston.5478.sbeok.shnf

The acoustic performance at the Melk Weg is wildly jammed...

http://www.archive.org/details/gd81-10-16.sbd.vinson.1217.sbeok.shnf

Acoustic Birdsongs were discussed here this past October...

http://www.archive.org/post/328144/acoustic-bird-songs

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Poster: jerlouvis Date: Aug 18, 2011 10:43am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Bird Song

I have to agree with you Cliff,for me the Bird Song was the undisputed highlight of the acoustic revival and one of the best things they produced throughout the decade.There are 10-12 extraordinary versions,2 which you listed.

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Poster: billydlions Date: Aug 17, 2011 6:19pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Bird Song

I think the Watkins Glen Soundcheck show is the jazziest and the Cole Field House performance is the best post '73 version. I've watched the video from 10-31-80 many times and it is amazing every time I see it!

http://www.archive.org/details/gd73-07-27.sbd.miller.27779.sbeok.flacf

http://www.archive.org/details/gd81-03-07complete.aud-wise.senn421.22933.sbeok.shnf

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYA16z2-xFg



This post was modified by billydlions on 2011-08-18 01:19:10

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Poster: turnphilup Date: Aug 18, 2011 8:02am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Bird Song

Watkins Glen was my first thought as well when it comes to Bird Song. I believe it is Phil, who right before they start, steps to the mic and utters, "this whole thing is a fraud, were really clever androids." Classic line before this mesmerizing version. Something must have been in the kool-aid before this unexpected show. Its basically a free show which added to the laid back and hey, lets just play to the crowd vibe going on this night. Don't forget the jam which comes a little later as well.

Hey Charlie Miller, was the audible tape flip(?) or glitch at around 4:54 on this copy of Birdsong, just one of those tape anomalies that can not be extracted and cleaned up from the originals? Inquiring minds would like to know? Thank you for everything you have done to make this a incredible place to come and hear my favorite band. Peace

This post was modified by turnphilup on 2011-08-18 15:02:35

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Poster: rastamon Date: Aug 18, 2011 8:24am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Bird Song...and a question for CM

yes, I'd also wish to know, por favor

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Poster: fenario80 Date: Aug 17, 2011 8:48pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Bird Song

http://www.archive.org/details/gd1981-03-09.mtx.seamons.101159.flac24

A little brisk, but Jerry's in a ripping mood and Phil drops some thunder that comes through really nicely on this matrix

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Poster: snori Date: Aug 18, 2011 8:35am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Bird Song

One of the numbers I look for when browsing shows. The jams are usually mellow and calmimg, but never dull. This one is a bit unusual and has touches of Pink Floyd about it. http://www.archive.org/details/gd85-11-05.sbd.lai.1188.sbefail.shnf

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Poster: clementinescaboose Date: Aug 18, 2011 1:13am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Bird Song

I definitely agree about Bird Song and it's open-nature. In fact a number of Bird Songs, esp. from 72-73 sound like mini Dark Stars to me. I too wish they had played this (along with a number of tunes like Here Comes Sunshine) in '74, the potential seems endless.

Anyways, I have always thought fall of '72 was the very best time for this song. There's also some fantastic ones from Spring/Summer '73 and of course the acoustic ones are beautiful. Here's a few of my favorites that weren't mentioned:

9/10/72:

http://www.archive.org/details/gd72-09-10.sbd.patched.greenberg-powell.22793.sbeok.shnf

10/18/72:

http://www.archive.org/details/gd72-10-18.sbd.weir.7295.sbeok.shnf

11/19/72:

http://www.archive.org/details/gd1972-11-19.sbd.lai.3910.sbefail.shnf

2/17/73:

http://www.archive.org/details/gd1973-02-17.sbd.miller.32580.sbeok.flac16

6/30/73:

http://www.archive.org/details/gd1973-06-30.sbd.baker.19903.shnf

10/19/80: (Thanks for recommending this amazing version, Cliff!)

http://www.archive.org/details/gd80-10-19.set2-3-aud.vernon.13469.sbeok.shnf





This post was modified by clementinescaboose on 2011-08-18 08:13:57

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Poster: stratocaster Date: Aug 17, 2011 4:17pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Bird Song

Weird list...seems to be comprised mostly of versions from the bird song lowlands...

some others to ponder...

07-31-1971, 08-27-1972, 06-22-1973, 11-30-1980, 03-07-1981, 03-09-1981, 07-04-1981, 08-30-1985, 12-31-1987, 06-19-1988, 03-29-1990, 04-01-1991, 09-22-1993, 08-03-1994, 06-02-1995

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Poster: dark.starz Date: Aug 18, 2011 8:11pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Bird Song

Bird Song is a lovely composition that provides a bunch of open space around the melody for interpretation, particularly it's primal years of 1971 - 1972. I can clearly hear in my head the biting sound of Jerry picking close to the bridge of his Strat. One of those classic Garcia guitar riffs along with Help on the Way and a 1977 Dancin in the Streets.

One of my mentors once said; "i never met a bottle of wine i didn't like!".

To her i say; "i never met a Bird Song i didn't like!".




This post was modified by dark.starz on 2011-08-19 03:11:35

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Poster: Dudley Dead Date: Aug 18, 2011 8:20am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Bird Song

Agreed, it is always good/interesting , even in the late period . I sometimes think that , in the "Dark Star revival period", the Bird Song's seemed more "Dark Starish" that the actual DS's they did .

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Poster: dark.starz Date: Aug 19, 2011 2:20am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Bird Song

http://www.archive.org/details/gd1972-11-19.sbd.lai.3910.sbefail.shnf

Bird Song > Hofheinz Pavillion > November 19, 1972

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Poster: Jack o' Roses Date: Aug 18, 2011 9:58am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Bird Song

I agree even some late 80's (pre-10/9/89) Bird Songs sound quite Dark Star-ish, especially when they end the first set (cap center 9/88, I recall(?), is a good example-). We used to call them 'budget dark stars.'

Also, I had the privilege to be at the Fox 11/30 show to hear the return of the electric Bird Songs. This is a beautiful version!

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Poster: jerlouvis Date: Aug 18, 2011 10:23am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Bird Song

Yeah Strat,it may be an odd list due to my odd taste,but generally I try to not to list the more obvious versions such as 8/27/72,6/22/73 or 3/7/81 figuring most people have heard them.I wasn't trying to list the best versions,just trying to point out how it varied across the years I listen to.

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Poster: adks12020 Date: Aug 18, 2011 5:58am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Bird Song

I've always loved the way the band played Bird Song in 1972. They take it out there to a certain point but don't get to crazy. I actually like the fact that they kept them under 12 or 13 minutes for the most part. That type of restraint, to me, showed they were maturing as a band. I think the ability to know when a jam should stop is just as important as trying to find out how far it can go and it seems to me that some of the Bird Songs in 72 do that perfectly.

this one is pretty great... http://www.archive.org/details/gd72-08-27.sbd.orf.3328.sbeok.shnf

this one too... http://www.archive.org/details/gd1972-09-10.sbd.lai.5679.shnf

and this one... http://www.archive.org/details/gd1972-10-02.sbd.gans.miller.112864.flac16

obviously there are more...72 is a treasure trove for lots of reasons as you all know.

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Aug 18, 2011 4:39am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Bird Song

Bird Song is one of the quintessential "Jerry jams" in the GD repertoire - I think it reflects his own musical personality in a more focused way than the songs I think of as being "primal GD".

One of the most interesting things to me as a listener is hearing all the different phrase lengths Jerry uses, and how he extends them. He plays long, continuous lines that gradually ascend, and contrasts them with short fragments. This is true for a lot of his improvisation, of course, but I hear Bird Song as heightening this contrast. It's probably because the long, extended phrases are even more extended than usual.

Just to stir up some debate, I'll toss this out: the fact that Bird Song was absent from the late 70s era is symptomatic of why the second half of Keith's tenure is less interesting than the 1980s. A lot of what I like about the GD is a certain kind of delicacy and finesse, a gracefulness - and Bird Song epitomizes this musical element, which is often lacking from the 1978 vintage.

I wish I had the energy to write a lot more, I've been rather fatigued this past week and haven't posted much, but I've had a lot of internal musings about Bird Song and thoughts listening to different versions that I feel too tired to type up now.

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Poster: jerlouvis Date: Aug 18, 2011 12:51pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Bird Song

Bird Song does seem very representative of Jerry's 72'-74' playing style,and that makes it's 32 performances in 72' to 12 in 73' to zero in 74' even more confusing,bkidwell.You would think in 74' when the band seemed to tire of Dark Star and the 01 as vehicles for their improvisations instead of trying to stretch out Truckin' or Scarlet,or bringing back the spanish jam or MLB jam ,they might have looked to open up Bird Song.At the height of their jazz inspiration they had the perfect composition to express their jazzy aspirations,and it is a shame it never came to fruition.Even in 76' with that slow,deliberate sound,it could have been wonderful.

It's lack of play after the hiatus is more logical in that they lost their improvisational chops for the most part,and the focus changed to a more rock oriented feel.I would think that contributed to Keith's decline as much as anything,all of a sudden he is in a very different band then the one he joined in 71',and you could make the leap that he didn't dig the new direction of coke fueled,sort of lame rock band scenario he was in.


This post was modified by jerlouvis on 2011-08-18 19:51:42

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Poster: Dudley Dead Date: Aug 18, 2011 8:33am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Bird Song

I can see that might not fit in with the return of Hart/power sound of the late 70's, but why, from its introduction in 71 , in a period of their utmost "delicacy and finesse " were there periods when they did not play it ? After Keith joins, they drop it , only to bring it back in July 72 , then drop it agin in September 73 .
Meaning it is absent from al of 74-74, one of their most jazzy and introspective periods . Why ? Has anyone heard anything about this ?

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Aug 18, 2011 9:27am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Bird Song

I don't have much to say about Bird Song today - but this is a little Bird Song history I did -
http://www.archive.org/post/328170/a-brief-bird-song-history

I have no idea why it disappeared from Oct '71-June '72, or from Oct '73 onwards. I'm very sorry it wasn't played in those periods!

Bird Song would be an interesting song to study how they altered the jam in later years. I find the early '80s versions to be more clipped & stiff than it had been in the '70s; and there's just one middle jam rather than being extended toward the end. By the late '80s they added a new chordal ending to the jam - around '87, right? And perhaps one reason it started to sound more Dark Star-ish in the '90s was that the band used the jam as a MIDI playground with flutes, etc.

I'll quote Phil scholar Brent Wood on the 1990 Without A Net Bird Song - pardon the technical language. (He compared it to Cassidy, another song with a somewhat extended jam that brightened up '80s first sets.)

"Bird Song moves through the bright E-mixolydian with a swing feel that mutates into triplets and then into 6/8 time. These long instrumental passages, which initially sound as if they are single-chord jams, soon reveal themselves as explorations of modal possibilities...
[The jam] virtually transforms into the 6/8 riff from The Other One. The music continuously morphs through subtle rhythmic combinations on the way to this point, as there are many instances in which Lesh implies a swing feel while the drummers play triplets or move into a syncopated 6/8 feel, and vice versa. At the same time, through his choices of melodic phrasing, Lesh takes the nominally single-harmony jam into several related harmonic areas using the same set of tones. Moreover, the song’s dynamics range from whispering to thundering, indicating that by this point the band, particularly Garcia and Lesh, had overcome some of their interpersonal isolation and were listening acutely to one another. Near the end of the piece Lesh employs a familiar technique of suddenly dropping down an entire register to a low E root note on a downbeat after conditioning the listener to hearing his mid-range melodic figures, amplifying the psychological effect of this deep “bass bomb”. As the guitarists play their standard coda licks, Lesh, as always, creates a counter melody different each time through the guitar phrase, and finally climbs up to the fifth of the scale, B, to leave the song’s resolution gently suspended.
The band’s tendency to slip from their typical swinging groove into 6/8 patterns is due largely to Garcia’s predilection for triplets and Lesh’s attraction to groups of three beats. Not only do performances of Bird Song often sound as if they are going to mutate into The Other One, but also into Truckin', another of the band’s E-mixolydian jams verging on 12/8 time. Paradoxically...the group’s jams start to resemble one another more as they resemble themselves less."

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Poster: wisconsindead Date: Aug 18, 2011 12:00pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Bird Song

cool post LIA. Wish I really understood that quote.

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Poster: Finster Baby Date: Aug 18, 2011 5:11am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Bird Song

coupled with good lyrics sung in a pleasing cadence”

“These versions were selected strictly on the instrumental passage,as I usually jump in at the 2:30 minute mark to avoid the vocal,and stop listening after the jam portion,to avoid the vocal”

Seems to be an odd contradiction.

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Poster: jerlouvis Date: Aug 18, 2011 9:43am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Bird Song

I did not say it was sung well,I was talking about it's appeal as a composition,not how well a questionable vocalist performed it over the span of his career.There are some 70's versions and the majority of the acoustic versions where it is well sung or at least listenable,but for the most part part I don't enjoy listening him struggle trying to sing it.No contradiction whatsoever.

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Poster: WillCo Date: Aug 18, 2011 7:48am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Bird Song

This is a nice, simple one from April 28th 1971 - the one on "Ladies and Gentlemen". There's a chamber-music feel to the instrumental mix (listen for example to the passage about 2:30 into the song). I think Bobby's guitar really shines on this. The recording is top-notch, although if Pigpen was playing organ you can't hear it - it's just guitars and drums. My only criticism is that Jerry's vocal is unusually off-key.
http://www.archive.org/details/gd1971-04-28.sbd.miller.106099.flac16